Three generations of Mellencamp art on display


Wandering through gallery rooms at the Southern Indiana Center for the Arts in Seymour, visitors can see an art display unlike any other.

It’s not every day there’s an opportunity to see a rock legend’s artwork alongside that of his son and late mother.

Mellencamp: Three Generations of Art is on display now through Nov. 2. The exhibit features paintings from Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member and Seymour native John Mellencamp, his late mother, Marilyn, and son, Speck.

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Sean Hildreth, executive director of SICA, said it is a rare opportunity to see three generations of artists’ work all in one location.

“To have the Mellencamp name attached to it is truly special,” he said at a reception Thursday for SICA members. “To have a show of this caliber at our center is another example of John’s passion for art in the area.”

Much of John’s work on display is from collectors Jason Millican of Bloomington and John and Michelle Vickery of New Kirkland. Some of his pieces are for sale and can be purchased at the gallery.

Marilyn’s husband, Richard Mellencamp, who still lives in Seymour, supplied her work, but none of those pieces are for sale.

Some of John’s newer pieces where he has used mixed media with several unique materials are included in the exhibit.

John’s sister, Janet Kiel of Seymour, took notice of those pieces Thursday night. She had not seen much of it before and found it interesting, she said. She also said it was great to see her nephew’s work.

Seeing her mother’s paintings is always special and emotional, she added.

“I love it when we get the opportunity to share our mother’s work,” she said. “It somehow brings her memory closer.”

Laura Hackman, another of John’s sisters, said she was pleased with the number of people who attended. People filled every gallery room where artwork was displayed for much of the evening.

“I was happy to see such an awesome turn out for the reception,” Hackman said. “Seeing mom, John and Speck’s work reminds me I didn’t get the family’s art gene. They’re very talented, and I’m proud of this exhibit.”

Jason Millican brought seven of 40 pieces he has acquired from Mellencamp over the last five years. As a fan of his music and artwork, Millican said it made him feel good to share the work in Mellencamp’s hometown and at the center he played such a role in establishing.

“This is what makes this worth it because I’m able to share it,” he said. “I think this is wonderful for Seymour.”

Millican said he was friends with Mellencamp’s oldest daughter, Michelle, while in high school and has come to love his artwork.

“I like how he has moved into mixed media,” he said.

Millican operates a real estate company with offices in New York next to Mellencamp’s art gallery, which he frequents.

“It’s like a kid in a candy store when I’m there,” he laughed. “When you ask what a painting means, he doesn’t want to tell you. He wants you to figure out what you think the painting means.”

Cathy Richey, Mellencamp’s personal assistant, attended the reception and said Mellencamp holds the exhibit close to his heart.

“For him to do something, he has to care about it,” she said. “He gets asked to do a lot of things, so he cares about this. I think that having Marilyn and Speck’s work here brings it close to home and makes it special.”

Richey said being at SICA brought back memories, because she first started working for Mellencamp during the filming of his movie “Falling From Grace.” The home, which was where a childhood friend of Mellencamp’s lived, was purchased as a headquarters for the movie.

In 1991, John and Marilyn decided the area needed an art center and helped establish SICA at the residence.

“It’s a privilege for me to work for him because he’s such an icon,” Richey said.

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”If you go” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

What: Mellencamp Three Generations of Art

When: Through Nov. 2.

Where: Southern Indiana Center for the Arts, 2001 N. Ewing St., Seymour.


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